Teenage national history-makers | This Is Local London
A trio of teenagers from Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club made history on Saturday when they became the first runners from the club to win English National cross country medals for more than three decades.
Fresh from her win in an international cross country race in Belgium, Ellen Weir led the team medal-winning squad home by taking the individual silver medal in the junior women’s six kilometers race on a gloriously sunny spring day. She crossed the line in 25 minutes, just 37 seconds behind race winner Alex Millard from Invicta East Kent.
It was a fine run and underpinned the enormous progress the 18-year-old Wimbledon High School student has made at cross country racing this winter. In December she represented Great Britain in the European cross country championships in Dublin where she was the second finisher for the bronze medal-winning junior women’s team.
A delighted Ellen said: “Alex Millard was the clear favourite, being two years older. I knew I had a chance of a medal after winning in Belgium. On the second hill, Alex broke away but I hung on for the rest of the long lap to take the silver medal.”.
With Albane Fery 29th in 27:28 and Niamh Thompson 72nd in 29:08, Hercules Wimbledon took the bronze medals in the team event with 103 points behind Aldershot (65) and Tonbridge (97). It was the first time since 1988 that Hercules Wimbledon runners had gained medals in the English National cross country championships. The last Hercules Wimbledon runner to do so was Dave Clarke, the club’s current chairman, who took the senior men’s title at Newark in 1988 for the third time.
The club needed to go further back for the last time it won National team medals. That was in 1974 when Hercules Wimbledon took bronze medals in the senior men’s championship at Graves Park, Sheffield. The teenage trio made further history by being members of the first-ever Hercules Wimbledon junior women’s team to compete in the championships.
Meanwhile, Hercules Wimbledon’s senior men equaled their best performance since 1974 by finishing eighth out of 181 teams in the senior men’s 12 kilometers championship to emulate their achievement at Parliament Hill Fields in 2018. They were the top Surrey and South London club in the championship. They were led in by Dan Cliffe who was 33rd of the 2028 finishers in 44:26 with captain Fred Slemeck (58th in 45:24), veteran Richard McDowell (107th in 46:31), Andrew Penney (121st in 46:48) , George Mallett (122nd in 46:48) and Jonathan Cornish (123rd in 46:48). Fifteen Hercules Wimbledon runners completed the grueling 12 kilometers course
Down the age groups, Hercules Wimbledon’s Under-13 boys squad was seventh out of 41 teams and the top from Surrey. They were led in by Thomas Whorton, who has impressed this winter winning the Surrey Schools championship and the South of England indoor 800 meters title. He was 38th of almost 400 runners with Harry Allen 52nd, Sam Dyson 53rd and Zachary Elliott 108th.
Hercules Wimbledon’s Under-17 women’s team also performed well finishing 10th and the first from Surrey. They were led in by Abbie Gray (76th at 22:29) with Eloise Davies (86th at 22:43), Lulu Weisz (109th at 23:06) and Millie Thorpe (137th at 23:58).
This weekend, Hercules Wimbledon’s cross country runners are competing in the final Open Track Surrey cross country league meeting at Lloyd Park, Croydon, which was postponed a fortnight ago when it was due to be staged on Effingham Common, when had to be called off due to strong winds caused by Storm Eunace.